Corporate personhood

Be very careful indeed about drawing conclusions about corporate personhood from the manner in which it was achieved. For example, from the comments:

1886 Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company, the Court granted Constitutional rights for the first time to Corporations and created the concept of corporate personhood. largely based on the fourteenth amendment which was meant to protect freed slaves

Interesting but irrelevant. For every legal system has ended up in pretty much the same place concerning such personhood. Whatever the background to the legal system or the specific events that led to the definitions.

The point being that the purpose of a company is to produce a legal person. That’s what the underlying idea is.

Natural persons, that’s us human beings, have certain rights, we most assuredly do. One of which is the right to be represented at law. We can be charged, we can charge someone else, we can enter into a contract, we can be held to the terms of that contract. My cat(s) cannot enter into contract, nor held responsible, at law, for anything. They are not natural people – despite, obviously, being the rulers of all they survey.

So, when we’ve got this grouping of people who want to undertake some task that grouping does not have any legal rights. It cannot sign a contract, cannot be sued under it, is not responsible before the law for anything at all. At which point we invent the concept of the legal person. This is something, someone, who is not a natural person but who also has some of the rights of a natural person. Including that most vital one we invent the concept for, being an entity which has a legal existence and can thus partake of the law.

Without corporate personhood it’s not possible for a company to sign a contract, nor can it be sued under one.

A legal person does not have all of the rights of a natural one. Or not necessarily. Citizens’ United was about whether the political free speech rights of a natural person extend to a legal one. The SC decided yes. The free movement of companies across the EU is because the EU itself decided that legal persons should have the same rights to free movement as natural persons. Either decision could be read the other way and we’d not have changed the basic underlying point – legal personhood exists so that companies can sue and be sued.

It’s entirely true that different jurisdictions have reached this point by different paths. But the path is not the important point about it at all. Some formulation akin to being a “legal person” is necessary to the very existence of a corporation in the first place, the ability to sue and be sued at law. Which is why near every jurisdiction has the same end result, whatever the path.

The Guardian on things you can do about Venezuela

3. Pressure the left
Reach out to Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone and other politicians who have expressed support for Chávez and Maduro in the past. Put pressure on them to do the right thing and demand that the Venezuelan government respect human rights and democracy. Their voices might still carry some weight in Caracas.

I was going to weigh in but a comment beat me to it:

GMH123 1h ago

10. Get Owen Jones to write articles in the Guardian.

Yes, why not pressure Young Owen to tell us all about it?

American professor does not understand English language

Q: Do you think that without regulatory capture, antitrust charges would have been brought against Google?

Oh yeah. An 88 percent market share in search advertising? That is by definition a monopoly.

Nope, it ain’t.

It’s market dominance, certainly, there’s undoubtedly market power there as well. But “mono” and “one” are rather closely connected. That they’ve not got that other 12% means they are not a monopoly.

Q: At the Stigler Center conference on concentration, you called Google “the closest thing to a natural monopoly I’ve seen in my lifetime.” Can you elaborate?

I would say Google is as close to a natural monopoly as the Bell System was in 1956. If you came to me and said “Hey, I want to start a company to compete with Google in search,” I would say you’re out of your mind and don’t waste your energy or your time or your money, there’s just no way. Classic economics would say that if there’s a business in which there are 35 percent net margins, that would attract a huge amount of new capital to capture some of that, and none of that has happened. That tells you there’s something wrong.

Bing, Duck Duck Go…….

If Snapchat could really compete on an equal basis with Facebook that would be okay, but every time Snapchat introduces some new innovation, Facebook knocks it off shortly thereafter so that they won’t have any differentiation

There’s no competition because the competition is too fierce…..

How not to do it, yes

The shadow chancellor said last year that it was “inevitable” he and Mr Corbyn would have to resign if they lost the election, but he refused to make the same prediction yesterday, saying only: “We’re going to win this election because our country needs us”.

Asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr “are you a Marxist?”, Mr McDonnell said: “I believe there’s a lot to learn from reading Kapital, yes of course it is, and that’s been recommended not just by me but many others, mainstream economists as well.”

Not that we do get a lot of advice on how to do it to be frank. But it is true that there are useful hints in there. For example, it’s competition between capitalists when there’s full employment which raises the workers’ wages. Entirely true. We should read “monopoly capitalism” as “monopsony capitalism” and that would be a really bad thing. The only place it has ever really occurred was in the Soviet system so that’s a good guide, don’t do that, don’t have everyone working for the one employer, the state.

And of course the basic guidance, that true communism will arrive when we’ve solved the problem of economic scarcity, and it will be solved by capitalism, is spot on.

The pity though is that no one does take those lessons from Das Kapital…..

Building more houses would raise house prices because neoliberalism

Via, which gives an interesting view of the piece, we get this PhD thesis. Which sets out to prove that if you build more houses they will only become more expensive because neoliberalism.

This thesis ontologically investigates the function of planning in relation to the hegemonic ideology of neoliberalism. It argues that since planning emanated from the contradictory operations of capitalism, it largely influenced by these paradoxical characteristics. As the result, planning undertakes a paradoxical role in performing its plans and policies and often fails in adequate achievement of its aims. Urban Growth Management Policy (UGMP) is considered to provide an in-depth understanding of the function of planning under the hegemonic ideology of neoliberalism. A logic approach based on the Essex School of Discourse Analysis (ESDA) studies is applied as the methodology of the research. The method is a complicated approach taken from political studies and is applied for the first time in a planning research. The method is proposed by this thesis as it is anticipated it will bring a beneficial approach to planning whereby different logics for the possibility of a practice can be considered including the social, political and fantasmatic logics. In particular, it is considered useful for planning theory and practice because it attempts to bridge the usual dichotomies in planning, such as those of theory and practice of planning. In addition, it is worthwhile due to its intrinsic ability to propose an alternative or counter-logic for the status quo of planning with an emphasis on the contextual characteristics of empirical cases. Based on the retroductive/abductive modes of reasoning that the logic approach suggests, this research creates a critical theory of neoliberal housing policy in the form of UGMP. Then, the thesis examines the validity of the theory in two chosen case studies from Western Australia, Perth-Ellenbrook and from Iran, Tehran-Parand. The validation of the theory in two cases shows which logics of social, political and fantasmatic make a practice of UGMP possible in each case. It also shows to what extent the practice of UGMP in each case is in alignment with neoliberalism as the hegemonic ideology. Furthermore, an ontological investigation of the logics of possibility of something inherently inscribes the logics of the impossibility/vulnerability of that thing. Indeed, a logic approach provides a twofold aim for this research, which is to systematically uncover different logics of the possibilities of a practice of planning such as that of an UGMP, as well as the impossibility of that practice. Therefore, deployment of logic approach provides an appropriate tool to discuss for at least one alternative to the practice of UGMP in each case of Perth and Tehran.

Yes, this woman actually teaches courses with the word “economic” in the title.

The PhD was awarded……

I think we can guess how the rest of this will go


NEW YORK, May 1, 2017 – The “Unpayable Debt” working group at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Social Difference announces the launch of PRSyllabus, a resource to study Puerto Rico’s $70 million debt crisis in the context of over one hundred years of colonial governance by the United States.

“The syllabus comes at a critical time,” says working group co-director Frances Negrón-Muntaner (Columbia University). “Today unions throughout the island have declared a national strike. Students at the University of Puerto Rico are also on strike to protest extreme budget cuts and to support demands for an independent audit while an unelected board with ties to the lending industry in the United States, supports extreme austerity measures that have been unsuccessful elsewhere in the world. To guide more effective policy, we need to reorient our thinking and become better informed about the roots and consequences of the crisis. Our work suggests that participatory and transparent governance, economic revitalization, and full investment in fundamental human needs, like education and health, are better ways forward.”

I tend not to take much notice of press releases upon matters economic that don’t know the different between million and billion.

But you know Chicano Studies departments have to have something to do with their time.

Idiocy at The Guardian

Van Badham complains about how the schmutter trade is moving out of Asia and into Africa. My comment there:

“Now, of course, “wage pressure” from Asia’s industrialised working class is tempting manufacturers to relocate to Africa.”

So this capitalist exploitation made Asia rich and you want to stop the same thing happening in Africa?

How nice of you.

And of course this is idiocy:

If globalisation allows multinational corporations to base their operations where a worker’s value is a mere $10 a week, it sets up a situation ripe for competitive exploitation that becomes everyone’s problem. Without an international minimum wage, we’re all worth 10 bucks.

Just to give an example, 96.5% of Americans working receive more than the minimum wage in that country. There is thus some force other than the minimum wage which determines wages then, isn’t there?

Hmmn, comments are closed there. Wonder why?

Frank Field meets Snippa Spud

The committee, led by the Labour MP Frank Field, criticised such arguments as fiction. It also highlighted that forcing people into self-employment as couriers, taxi drivers and other roles, rather than taking them on as employees, was depriving the state of badly needed tax revenues and creating an extra burden on the welfare system.


Won’t happen but what if it did?

By the mid-2000s, some economists began wondering whether Big Data could discern every individual’s own personal demand curve—thereby turning the classroom hypothetical of “perfect price discrimination” (a price that’s calibrated precisely to the maximum that you will pay) into an actual possibility.

What if – we’d all be vastly poorer as the consumer surplus would vanish.

Proof the robots will make us richer

Had an email asking me for some thoughts on this. So, here’s the proof that the robots will make us richer in aggregate.

GDP is production, consumption or income. The sum of all of them in the economy. And by definition they are equal to each other. Production equals consumption equals incomes.

And I think we all agree that the robots are going to increase production, yes? Thus they must increase incomes and consumption, cannot be any other way.

Sure, that still leaves the question of the income distribution but it’s market competition which leads to consumers getting the bulk of that.

Pound plunges!

The Guardian’s got a picture of the exchange rate plunging as we await May’s announcement – perhaps of a snap election.

Plunging I tell ya. All the way from 1.259 to 1.252 or so.

Film at 11.

Nice to confirm it of course

Men who were born after the Black Death were taller than men who lived through the Industrial revolution, a study revealed.
The height of men has fluctuated throughout history, according to scientists who analysed 4,700 skeletons over the last 2,000 years.
They found that men were shorter in the Dark Ages than they were during the Roman occupation.
Other peaks were found after the Norman Conquest in the 11th century and between the 1400s and the early 1650s.

But really this is just Malthus all over again.

Richer times mean children are better nourished. This shows up as their being taller – but also as more surviving to have children. Population increases and per capita living standards decline to subsistence once again. At which point adults are shorter again.

Twats they are again

A leading thinktank has urged the government to spend billions of pounds helping poorly skilled workers in the less prosperous parts of the UK cope with the threat of the looming robot revolution.

The left-leaning Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) said in a new report that those most at risk from automation were concentrated in low-skill sectors of the economy and were least able to adapt to change.

More than 10m jobs in the UK – a third of the total – are thought to be at risk from automation within the next two decades and the IPPR said the scale of the challenge required urgent action.

Some 10% of all jobs are destroyed every year and then recreated. There#s a technology shift in each such change.

10 million gone in 20 years is is less than the 60 million change we expect anyway.

I wonder if Owen has ever thought about this

It’s difficult to disentangle this result from the fact Sheffield is the low-pay capital city of the country: its average hourly rates are 10% below the British average.

Is the cost of living in Sheffield 10% lower than the national average? More than that perhaps?

I’d think it entirely possible, using some local area PPP adjustments, that many areas of the south offer less disposable income after housing costs….

In cities such as Sheffield, low-paid and insecure jobs have filled the vacuum instead. A young woman speaks to me as she pushes a pram. She was a duty manager at a supermarket. Even though she had many responsibilities and “worked all the hours God sent me”, she languished on the minimum wage. They make a lot of money, these big supermarkets, I say. “Yes – off people like me, working their arses off.”

What, 3%, 4% of turnover?

Cheryl is right, of course. The research on immigration does suggest it can suppress wages at the bottom end of the labour market.

Without an inspiring message from the left, the danger is that backlash against immigrants will grow. Blaming foreign workers for shrinking wages is, after all, a simple and easily digested message.


You’re not really understanding economics matey, are you?

Progress has been made – fur farms were banned in the UK in 2003, and selling cat, dog and seal products is also illegal. But imported fur from other species, including fox, rabbit, mink, coyote, raccoon dog and chinchilla, is still allowed. And this week an investigation by Sky News found that supposedly “fake fur” products, including gloves, hats and shoes, at leading retailers actually contain real fur from cats, raccoon dogs, rabbits, mink and fox.

This discovery has upset shoppers who thought the fur they were buying was synthetic. Never mind the labels, they assumed the cheap price tags alone meant the fur couldn’t be real.

If you restrict the markets for real fur then it becomes cheaper…..

Oxfam are just amazing

Companies were able to lower their rates in part by stashing $1.6 trillion offshore and relying
on a massive network of 1751 subsidiaries in tax havens. This marks a $200 billion increase
in funds stashed offshore and 143 additional subsidiaries in tax havens disclosed by these
companies since Oxfam’s 2016 report.

So, the stashing is $200 billion a year.

Rigged tax rules cost Americans approximately $135 billion each year in corporate tax
dodging and sap an estimated $100 billion every year from poor countries.

$200 billon in stashing a year causes $235 billion of tax revenue losses each year.

They’re not even reading their own shit, are they?

The Doughnut Economy

George Monbiot is very taken with a new book, the Doughnut Economy.

So what are we going to do about it? This is the only question worth asking. But the answers appear elusive. Faced with a multifaceted crisis – the capture of governments by billionaires and their lobbyists, extreme inequality, the rise of demagogues, above all the collapse of the living world – those to whom we look for leadership appear stunned, voiceless, clueless. Even if they had the courage to act, they have no idea what to do.

The most they tend to offer is more economic growth: the fairy dust supposed to make all the bad stuff disappear. Never mind that it drives ecological destruction; that it has failed to relieve structural unemployment or soaring inequality; that, in some recent years, almost all the increment in incomes has been harvested by the top 1%. As values, principles and moral purpose are lost, the promise of growth is all that’s left.

Richer countries tend to have better environments, unemployment is falling, so is global inequality. The really remakable thing about the last 40 years of economic growth is how pro-poor it has been…..yep, reality ain’t getting a look in there, is it?

We cannot hope to address our predicament without a new worldview. We cannot use the models that caused our crises to solve them. We need to reframe the problem. This is what the most inspiring book published so far this year has done.

In Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, Kate Raworth of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute reminds us that economic growth was not, at first, intended to signify wellbeing. Simon Kuznets, who standardised the measurement of growth, warned: “The welfare of a nation can scarcely be inferred from a measure of national income.” Economic growth, he pointed out, measured only annual flow, rather than stocks of wealth and their distribution.

And absolutely everything in the book is standard economics. It’s a slightly different emphasis, yes, but that’s all it is. Sure we should be using NNI not GDP and so on but it’s a tough thing to calculate and it takes some years. Thus as a management tool it’s not all that good. Why not value household labour as well? We know how to do that, it’s at minimum wage. Yes, externalities exist and we’ve known for a century how to deal with them, Pigou Tax.

It just ain’t different.

But the opening chapter is absolutely glorious. She notes that since 1990 extreme poverty has halved around the world – you know, this neoliberal globalisation thing, the greatest reduction in human misery in the history of our species.

Therefore, and it is therefore, we must entirely change economic policy.


Unfair, eh?

An Italian court on Friday banned the Uber app, saying it contributed to traditional taxis facing unfair competition, local media reported.

We’d better get back and ban that Spinning Jenny, most unfair to hand spinners that was.

Could someone define fake news for me?

The billionaire founder of eBay is to donate $100 million to fund investigative journalism and to combat the spread of misinformation online.

Pierre Omidyar, one of the world’s richest men, aims to tackle the “global trust deficit” by giving money to projects around the world.

The funds will be dispersed over the next three years through the Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment firm which he and his wife founded in 2004 and which has committed more than $1 billion to good causes.

Perhaps a red flashing cop light beside an article which contains any of the following lies?

The minimum wage does not cause job losses.

Corporations should pay more tax.

Global inequality is rising.

US child poverty is over 20%.

We have widespread poverty in the UK.

17% of UK families cannot afford enough food.

Just to give the answers

Yes, it does, but low ones cause low job losses

Corporations never bear the economic burden of any tax

Global inequality is falling, as is global poverty

That’s measuring child poverty before all the things we do to alleviate it. The correct number is 2 or 3% or so.

We have no poverty at all in the UK, we do have relative poverty, or as it is otherwise known, inequality.

The way the claim is presented it’s that 17% are in food poverty, missing a meal etc, at any one time. Actually, the statistic is calculated as anyone in a family or household who was in danger of having to skip a meal in the previous 12 months though lack of cash.

But then there’s no one out there willing to put up the cash to fight those sorts of lies, is there?